Thursday, October 26, 2006

failed to go to karate today. i'm not always so good at showing up twice a week there. some days, my brain just doesn't want to consider the option of driving 35 minutes to sweat for 2 hours, drive back, and crash. although i always love it when i leave class. but today, i decided to take it easy and accomplish a few other things. like writing this blog for instance.
i went for a walk after school and climbed a hundred or so steps to a shrine in Kijoka, sat there for a while and read. Current book is the sixth in Dark Tower series by Stephen King called, Song of Susannah. It's taken me quite a while to read this series but it's been good.
At home, i cleaned up and started cooking. The plan was to make a soup from scratch, a never before attempted task, and to see what happens to a butternut squash when it is a) cooked in a soup and b) baked. At the time of writing, the soup is still too hot to enjoy, but quick tastes have proven that i am not a terrible cook and there might be hope for me in the soup department, although i should have added more water. The baking went well as well, and as you know, i don't own an oven, so the little fish frying thing had to do. with a bit of sugar on it, it turned out quite well, although after some salad and chips with salsa, i am too full to eat either the squash or the soup. but it'll be a good lunch tomorrow and the soup will last a while.
and i have Matt to thank for all this squash goodness. Matt brought it yesterday when he paid my English Club a visit.
We planned to carve some pumpkins. I already had one, it was a surprise present from one of my student's parents, so Matt offered to bring a few more. At school, the reaction to my little pumpkin was great. The students and teachers have never seen an orange pumpkin of its size (and i'm telling you, it was small as Halloween pumpkins go) and students kept touching and asking if it was real. So i thought my English club girls would get a real kick out of more pumpkins and actually getting to carve them. Matt surprised us all by coming to school with three good size pumpkins, carving implements, a huge bag of candy, Halloween cookies and even some iced tea. It was great. He got everyone's attention walking through school bearing his gifts. and the girls just loved him. The carving went great. First, Matt showed the process on my little one, and then girls split up into small groups and carved their own. Theirs turned out great, but i didn't have my camera. So i hope to get some pics from either Matt or off the school camera that Akino-san used to take pics.
I set the jack-o-lanterns at the entrance and hope they last for a couple of days. Matt threatened to come back with more pumpkins for the actual Halloween.
I'm planning a lesson for each grade revolving around Halloween. A new student teacher has been at the school since Monday and will start teaching on the 30th, so i hope we can work together and make some lessons for the kiddies that involve them getting lots of candy. That's all they want really. My favorite 3rd grade boy has been by my desk every day for the last week asking for candy. They've put in their requests for gummies, chocolates, and lollypops.

and now, to share some pics from my trip to Fukuoka this past weekend. Brett wanted to go ride some coasters and invited people along; i was the only one who decided to join him, and am glad i did. It was a great time. A trip full of genuine kindness from strangers, lots of art, and nature, lots of laughs, and street music, and rabbits everywhere. plus of course good food and drink. naturally.
i'll let the pics do the rest of the work.

We stayed in an area of Ohorikoen, a beautiful park around an artificial lake. The Fukuoka modern art museum is in the park, and i took this pic on the walk around the lake after our visit to the museum.

first rabbit sighting. a sculpture outside Fukuoka Modern Art museum, Ohorikoen.

Mitsui Greenland. An older but fun amusement park an hour train ride from Fukuoka.

yep. that's a bear pushing acrobats on a tight rope. A small troupe of the Big Russian Circus performed at the Mitsui Greenland amusement park and i absolutely had to see them.

and this is Brett and i with Daria. the acrobats were taking polaroids for a fee for the audience. i walked up and spoke with them, asked them how much it was 'cause i didn't understand the japanese announcement, and they kindly offered to take the photo for free with my own camera.

at a great and hospitable establishment called Blow in Tenjin area of Fukuoka. I'm trying something called ginnan or Ginko biloba. They are roasted, the shells cracked and the inside reveals a greenish, soft, salty, and bitter nut. The owner who offered them to us to try claimed that they would give us "power". Brett didn't need more energy suppliments that evening.

i lucked out in seeing a traditional wedding ceremony at a Shinto shrine in the Hakata area of Fukuoka.

a street leading up to a temple in Dazaifu, a small city half hour train ride from Fukuoka. It used to be the governmental hub of Kyushu ages ago.

The amazing Kyushu National Museum. It's a year old and stunning architectually and has wonderful collections of Japan's prehistory and history with an emphasis on its connection to Chinese and Korean cultures. Ask me about it; we were lucky enough to have a guide lead us around and tell us all the details. It's number two on my list of top museums I have visited.


keldog22 said...

I want a pumpkin fairy!! Glad you skipped karate.

Cutetwirler said...

I read your blog from time to time as I'm going to try my shot at being an English teacher in Japan.

I went to Japan for about a month, doing homestays etc, and the thing that suprised and shocked me the most was how they treated animals.
I went to an aquarium and found the most terrible of conditions for the animals.

The pictures of the bear in your post makes me remember all this.
Did you feel the same way when seeing the bear?

Charlie, Japanese student, Uk

Kevin Thomas Hurley said...

I got a suprise at school today. One of the other teachers had gotten an Edline magazine and read our article. All the other teachers read it and then passed on information to students. End result: Everybody in school knows that I will not come back next year. It was a sad day.

-e said...

Hi, Charlie. I have heard that sometimes animals are not kept in great conditions at zoos. I am told that the small zoo in Okinawa is a miserable place. The only zoo i visisted in Japan was in Osaka and i thought it was quite nice for a zoo in the middle of a city. And the aquarium in Okinawa is fantastic. A gorgeous place with giant tanks.
And regarding the bears. Well, to be honest, I didn't think about it. I was so excited to see bears in a russian circus that it didn't even cross my mind that they're not having fun performing. They looked good, and this might be extraordinary ditzy of me, but i have a firm belief that russians wouldn't mistreat their bears. :)

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree about the Okinawa aquarium. First the turtle pool/tank is filled with NOTHING, not a think to entertain them except featureless concrete. OK they are cold blooded reptiles and not hot in inteligence but still! However the manatees are unforgivable, their tank is tiny and also filled with alot of NOTHING. The young adolecent Manatee is in an even smaller tank with also NOTHING to do except swim in circles like a gold fish. These are intelligent mammals! I felt bad watching them for sure. I am sorry to say 'cutetwirler' that as far as I have seen animal rights are not awfully big in Japan. They are a whaling nation after all. I often see dogs tied up outside with no water on boiling hot Okinawan days. It is a shame.

Cutetwirler said...

Craig, I saw all that you've mentioned in the aquarium that I visited. It was near Oita.. can't remember where.

We watched a show there with fish playing football with their noses. It was very 'cool' to see but then you think "fish like this aren't very clever. what the hell did they do to them to make them do all this?!"

It is sad.

-e said...

Craig, you're right. Forgot about the outside stuff. Those facilities are deffinately sad.